Turnstiles ~ Grant Tracey

When Johnny Betz saw Jeannie Betz he wasn’t sure it was really her. It had been quite a few weeks—outside of lengthy, odd phone calls—since they’d sat down and talked, and he felt like a secret agent, hiding behind pocket-book racks, staring at his assignment from inside a newsstand at the Bloor-Yonge subway exchange. She wore a orange wool coat and white boots that came up to her knees. Her hair was flipped back from her forehead in a sassy wave that he hadn’t seen before. It was clipped and cut above her collar. She appeared pensive, worrying her upper lip, waiting. He couldn’t help himself—he let her wait.

It all started two years ago with the war and Johnny’s graduation from Macalester four months after the Tet Offensive. Suddenly his deferment was up, and he had very conflicted feelings about killing people who had never done him any harm. He didn’t believe in the domino theory and saw American forces in Vietnam as unwanted intruders in a distant land, Prosperos to their Calibans. Later that summer, Janis Joplin scrawled an autograph across Johnny’s draft card and wrote: “please, don’t go.” Two weeks after Janis’s Detroit concert and much anguish followed by late-night conversations with his father, a veteran of the Korean conflict, Johnny left Ypsilanti, Michigan. With the help of underground connections he found work in Toronto and eventually met Jeannie.

Jeannie lived in the apartment next door and was often up late, listening gently to Leonard Cohen records. One eventful night, steam flooded the halls like patches of fog. She had been trying to warm her cold-water flat and wasn’t about to ask for help (she managed a boutique on Yonge Street after all and was freethinking, a feminist, and somewhat of a fashionista), so she kept wheeling the radiator dial, until it wedged and wisps of heat shimmered and she lost sight of her hands. “You need to wear a towel,” he said, upon entering the apartment. “This room is a sauna.” She laughed, handed him a hot-pan holder, and watched, coughing, as he spun the stuck knob, cranking it back to its rightful place. “I’m really not this klutzy,” she insisted, and then offered him a Fresca.

Over the next few months, mainly Tuesday and Saturday nights, they stopped in the halls or in each other’s apartment to talk about music: she liked Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Creedence; he admired Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis, of course. Jeannie was the youngest in a family of five. Her parents, the Mladans, immigrants from Macedonia, ran a corner variety store and lived with her big brother Stoyan in the apartment above it. Johnny didn’t tell her much about his past, except he was an only child: his Mom worked at a kitchen in the public schools; his Dad sold furnaces and although disappointed in the outcome of Johnny’s exile surprisingly supported his son and in general the withdrawal of forces from Vietnam.

Jeannie found Johnny to be so brave. It is easy to do what your government tells you to do; it is much harder to not listen when they are wrong. But Johnny still felt conflicted—as if he had let down the two generations of Betz’s before him who had served in Korea and the Great War. As he spoke of his feelings, she often smiled, leaned forward, right hand on left elbow, listening, nodding, soaking in his loss, his need to recover an irretrievable past. Six months after what they affectionately referred to as the “steam-heat-incident” they were married. Fourteen months after that, they separated.

At first, married life made Johnny happy. Periodically, she’d sneak up behind him, tickle his sides, shout “you’re it,” and let him chase her around the apartment, before the makeshift game of tag ended in an embrace and occasional lovemaking on the couch or the floor of the kitchen. Jeannie had the darkest eyes Johnny had seen—muddy charcoal—nearly as dark as her black hair, which wasn’t silky smooth like the girls he knew in high school. Hers was heavy, thick, and a little coarse and it belied the gentleness of her soul.

Jeannie also liked to hide his favorite coffee mug (white with a blue maple leaf)—in the freezer, on the scale in the bathroom, next to the scarves in the closet. He always found it and chuckled when he removed the crumpled note scrunched up inside: “I love you to the nth power.” Sometimes he got even by flushing the toilet while she was showering. On the days that she didn’t hide his coffee mug, Johnny felt a slight emptiness, as if some necessary ingredient were missing from his daily routine.

Eventually those occasional pangs of ennui spread into frequent occurrences, aches of dislocation—Canada wasn’t America—and Johnny distanced himself, reading in the evenings instead of talking, and no longer leaving his own notes—“mywomanmywomanmywoman”—under her pillow, like he used to.

“There you are,” she said, looking at her watch. A slender bracelet on her left hand glinted in the dusky light of the terminal. Under her right arm was a brightly wrapped package the size of a block of ice.

“Here I am.” He shoved hands in pockets. The terminal was crowded and along a near wall, by the exit turnstiles, a musician with a rickety violin case played a guitar that couldn’t possibly fit in the case. He sang “Wrote a Song for Everyone” in plaintive tones, loons on a lake.

Johnny didn’t really care much for the back-to-basics rock of CCR—he liked edgier sounds, wah-wah pedals and feedback, anger and distortion.

“What about ‘Fortunate Son?’” Jeannie said. “That was pretty edgy.” She dropped a quarter in the violin case. “Thanks for coming.”

For a second Johnny wasn’t quite sure if she were talking to him or the guitarist. Johnny wiped his chin and quietly sighed. “When are we going to tell them?”

“Soon. It would kill them to know.”

“No, it wouldn’t.”

Yes, it would, she pleaded. Her parents were from the old world and divorce wasn’t something that happened in the old world.

“Divorce? We’re just separated.”

“Well—that too didn’t happen. Maybe for a night, but not three weeks.”

“Four—tomorrow. Tomorrow it’s four.”

“Well, anyway—” She gestured with her left hand, the thin bracelet catching on the fleshy underside of her palm. Nobody she or her family knew got separated. Aunt Ellen hated Uncle Mito, but they were still together.

“That’s a ringing endorsement for marriage,” Johnny said, as the guitarist changed keys for the final verse.

Jeannie had to admit that Johnny had a point, but she couldn’t let her parents down, especially since they had been opposed to them getting married so young. She was only twenty then, and they worried that Johnny was all wrong for her. He was twenty-two, American and English-white; she was a Canadian and Macedonian with a touch of gypsy.

“Roma,” Johnny corrected. “The preferred term is Roma.”

“Roma,” she said, annoyed. And more to the point, her parents and older brothers (Mito in his mid-forties and Stoyan, thirty-eight) always treated her like a little kid, the baby of the family. “God, I hate being the baby and I don’t want them preaching to me.”

“Well, you are the baby. I mean technically speaking.”


The exit turnstiles stuttered. Johnny bruised his thigh and had to push the wheel of X’s with his hip to get it to click over. Jeannie, of course had no problems. The turnstile was like her life, turning terrifically for her. What had she to overcome? Her parents sheltered her. They all loved each other. Her father never spoke a cross word to Jeannie’s mother. There were no drinking problems, no late night fights and broken dishes, no infidelities or a dark bowling ball heaved through a television set—none of that—and “that” wasn’t something Johnny wanted to think about now, not really, but it was part of where he came from. By contrast, Jeannie’s temperament—except when she was talking to her family—was so low key—she rarely dwelled on sad things.

Outside, brisk autumn air forced Johnny to tuck his chin into the folds of his jacket collar. The sky was heavy with rain. Johnny wanted to remind Jeannie that Stoyan wasn’t that sold on him either and probably thought he too was a baby. Jeannie’s older brother often walked around the living room with a fishing hat pushed back on his head, a rum-and-coke in one hand, and a golf putter in the other, saying she was crazy. “You can’t marry the first guy you sleep with,” he had said one night when he thought Johnny wasn’t listening, lost in the adjacent kitchen, searching for a beer.

Johnny also sensed a thinly veiled anti-American sentiment whenever he was in the presence of Stoyan. Night after night as clips from the conflict in Vietnam were shown on the evening news, Stoyan’s voice would fill the spaces of Dedo’s living room as he shouted to Johnny while looking at the TV. “I mean, I like the people. Nicest people in the world—Americans. But your government is fucking crazy.” “I can’t disagree with you,” Johnny often acknowledged, hoping that the hockey game would soon start.

Hockey. He played it in Michigan as a kid, and he loved Canadians’ passion for the sport—its mix of football-like violence with the athletic grace of ballet. Hockey took him outside of all this—the war, the past, his problems with love. Hell, he wished there was a game now that he could retreat into, the snick-snick of skates was a soothing sound, instead of the silences between them and this charade they were about to play for her parents. “You need to tell them.”

“I will.” She stopped to adjust the purse strap sliding off her shoulder. Her right hand rested on her hip. “But not yet. It’s Dedo’s birthday.” He was turning seventy. Jeannie checked her face in a small compact. “I appreciate you agreeing to all this. I mean—you know—going through this.”

“What did we get him?”

“A blanket.” She adjusted the bulky block of a package against her hip. “Afghan.”

Johnny nodded and fought an urge to place his hand through her arm and walk along Yonge Street, as if they were a happy couple. But he was living in a separate apartment and she was interested in a colleague at work. At least he thought she was. He wasn’t sure, but she sure talked about the guy a lot. He wrote poems or something, had published a few, and was regarded by one editor as the next Raymond Souster, whoever the fuck he is. Johnny majored in English, published a story in Macalester’s student-run literary journal, but he was no poet—just a clerk, now, on the seventh floor of an office.

The sky was an asphalt umbrella. Lightning jagged the dark. “I like what you did to your hair,” he lied, still unsure of what to do with his hands.

The apartment smelled of okra beef stew, zilnick, and a thick heavy coffee that had traces of chocolate in it. Johnny loved the mix of old-world cuisine with new-world vitality. And this family was vital. Stoyan hustled about, mixing drinks, spinning a putter in his left hand, while handing out party favors, and offering rum-and-cokes. Johnny never wanted one but that never stopped Stoyan from asking. Dedo Nick, Jeannie’s father, in his old-man slippers with fuzzy fringes, smiled now and then and spoke only in a gravel of Macedonian. Christina, his wife, helped distribute snack plates of dark olives and feta cheese. Neither Ellen nor Mito was there. Ellen, a skip on a local curling team, had a match that night, and Mito was just too busy to get away from the office. He was a graphic designer, independent, Jeannie said, and Mito’s office was in his home. “So you telling me, he can’t get away,” she mumbled.

Johnny nodded, his party hat slipping to the left, the itchy string irritating his neck.

Babo Christina tapped Johnny’s hand, said he looked good, and offered him olives and feta. 

He smiled, finding it difficult to follow her words, but he concentrated on her face and sensed her favor towards him. He was family now. Sort of, he guessed.

The Mladans talked about cousins, especially thirty-something Virginia who was serious about a guy who still collected hockey cards and lived in his parent’s basement. They also talked about the old country, Canada, jobs, lack of jobs, and the new immigrants, Pakistanis especially and how they smelled funny. “Shit on a stick,” Stoyan said about them, as if he was never the child of immigrants, and then he turned his attention to the article in Life Magazine that showed pictures of all the American dead in Vietnam. “Did you see that,” he asked, as if Johnny were somehow accountable for the actions of the Pentagon.

“Yeah.” He bit his lower lip. “Yeah, I did. That was like two years ago.”

“Last year—the summer—all you hear on the news is about kill counts—so many Cong killed—but my god—”         

“It’s actually Viet Minh, not Viet Cong,” Johnny corrected.

Stoyan shook his head. One of the fishing hooks in the blue band of his hat looked like it might fall out. “And what about the space program?—collecting rocks—shouldn’t they put that money to better use like education?”

Babo Christina sensed Johnny’s discomfort and with a raised hand told Stoyan, “dosta, dosta,” and then complimented Johnny for the beautiful bracelet his wife was wearing. She touched the thin silver. “Much money, yes?” she asked with her eyes.

Johnny shrugged.

Stoyan too touched the bracelet’s outer edge, leaving half a thumb print against the jewelry’s smooth sheen. “Not bad. How much that set you back?”

“I don’t know.”

“Wow. It’s nice.”

“Yeah.” Johnny nodded and Jeannie smiled in his direction before making an awkward face, and then pushed away from the table and asked Babo if she needed any help getting supper ready. Seconds later, the lights in the apartment flashed and flitted. We were in for a bad storm, Stoyan said. According to the radio, anyway, there were power outages north in Barrie and Bradford. Jeannie shrugged and reached for a row of plastic cups. Johnny wondered where Jeannie got the bracelet. From the guy at work? The poetry guy? Maybe she just bought it for herself.

“You know what gets me about Americans?” Stoyan swung the putter above his shoe tops. “They have no idea about Canada. They come up here this time of year and they’ve got ski racks on their cars. I mean, it’s October.”

“No they don’t,” Jeannie said, a tower of china plates in her left hand, pressing against her thigh.

“They do. I swear. We get less snow than Buffalo for Chrissakes.”

Rain pounded the rooftop and ran down the narrow windows of the apartment. Streetlights across the way looked like they belonged in a French painting.

“Johnny, how many provinces does this country have?” Stoyan challenged.


“Very good. Most Americans don’t even know who are Prime Minister is.”

“Johnny’s not American, anymore,” Jeannie said.

“Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Prime Minister.” Johnny paused, looking at his fingers and thinking about Jeannie’s bracelet. “And, well, as far as provinces go, ten, unless you count Minnesota as the eleventh.”

Jeannie laughed, wrinkles forming at the corner of her eyes. Stoyan didn’t seem to get the joke. Johnny explained—Americans often refer to Canada as the 51st state or even worse, America’s hat, but from a Canadian perspective Minnesota’s the eleventh province. “We don’t want any other states. Just Minnesota. Hockey country. And maybe the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”

“Now that’s funny.” Stoyan laughed, tapping his putter against the edge of the Formica table. “Jeannie, where did you get those boots? They sure look like they’re made for walking.” He laughed again.

As the Mladans ate the big birthday dinner, their voices rising and rising, they were like guitarists in a rock-and-roll band, turning up for solos and forgetting to turn back down. Whenever Jeannie spoke to one of them on the phone, her voice would surge until in the end she was yelling. “I’m not yelling,” she’d say, punching Johnny in the shoulder. “I’m just discussing.” “You’re yelling now, as you talk to me. Bring it back down,” he’d say while tickling her sides. “That’s how we talk. I’m ethnic.” And then he’d kiss her, but he could never match her volume so they rarely argued.

Listening now to the crashing waves of reedy voices, the mix of dialects, Johnny enjoyed his space from the outside. Many of their stories focused on Dedo and his inability to understand English. “‘Make your par?’ he’d ask customers in the store instead of ‘Beg your pardon? Make your par?’ Hilarious,” Stoyan said.

Johnny smiled faintly for he was falling away, drifting from the moment playing out in front of him. It was a feeling he had since leaving the US, a kind of absurdist despair, a lingering pain, no beginning, no end, as if he were Albert Camus’s Sisyphus, pushing a rock up a hill and having to push it again and again and again.

Why couldn’t he just will those dark feelings away and be happy with Jeannie? Why did he feel as if he were living and moving in a driftless area, like astronauts floating weightless in space? Because those rocks, the emotional joys of life, could never stay at the top of the hill, but the journey was worth it, the impermanence of the journey was worth it, wasn’t it, all that pushing, because Jeannie was just so gentle and real.

It was his fault that he and Jeannie were separated. Somehow during the course of their relationship, he had got it into his head that she had fallen into the idea of loving him and didn’t love him for who he really was: the guy who could get grumpy when his feet got wet in the rain; the guy who hated to get picked last at the company softball game; the guy who wanted to scream down all of the digs and sideways comments tossed his way from his brother-in-law to the people at work to the media who wrote about “draft dodgers.” He had feared that his was but a political marriage.

Moreover, when they made love it wasn’t passionate. Jeannie was withdrawn, sometimes gasping briefly for air because intimacy scared her a little. Other times she’d lie there gently while he came, and then patted his back. She always seemed grateful, full of affection and admiration but he wanted that elusive emotional commitment that the poets—probably the guy at the boutique—wrote about.

Anyway, as the weeks stretched by, and as he watched her now, smiling, moving between her parents and big brother, navigating a space for Johnny and herself within the slightly murky waters of their anti-American sentiment (they were talking about Nam again), he experienced a deep longing, like he felt at the subway terminal when he had wanted to put his hand through the triangle of space of her flexed elbow, or when he got stuck in the stuttering wheel of the turnstile and briefly feared that he wouldn’t be able to follow her out the exit. Damn it, he wanted to kiss her, to have bought her that goddamn bracelet. As they ate supper and side plates of cheese zilnick (Dedo’s favorite), Johnny realized his mistake.

He hadn’t loved her enough. It wasn’t that she didn’t love him—she always had. Her love for him wasn’t idealized—she didn’t just admire his politics and wanted to help him become Canadian, keep him safe. No, they loved the same books: Saul Bellow and Margaret Laurence. Believed in unions and higher education and voted NDP. Cared about the environment and used reusable cloth bags when they shopped for groceries so as to save on paper. They also cared about the rights of women and thought “free love” was but a male construct to exploit the fairer sex. No, the ennui, the inability to trust in love, was his problem. He left his country, his family, and now he was leaving her and the family he created in Canada. He couldn’t stay connected to people.

How often had he contacted his mother and father since coming to Canada? When Jeannie suggested he call his folks, he’d rather read or go outside on the balcony and smoke a cigar. When she suggested they take ballroom dancing to help bring them closer, he laughed, and said, “I don’t dance.” When she suggested that he make a Monday or Wednesday meal like he used to, he opted for frozen dinners. He was retreating from their life. But tonight he was with her again, the four weeks apart was too long a gap, and as she smiled at her parents and looked great in a brown cashmere sweater that high-lighted the supple curves of her small breasts, he wanted to tell her all of this. Tonight, he felt that maybe the charade of the happy couple, the performance they were playing was or could be real. They could do this, he wanted to do this, to be with her, to try and become a better lover, to believe in love, and being loved.

Dedo had two more helpings of zilnick and Jeannie told him to be careful, to not eat too much—it had a lot of butter in it, take it easy.

“Take what easy,” Stoyan said. “It’s his birthday. And you could afford to eat a little more.” He pointed his fishing hat at Jeannie. “You look skinny. Lost five-ten pounds, maybe?”

“She looks great,” Johnny corrected.

“You haven’t even touched your okra stew.”

“I’m a vegetarian,” she said.

“Since when?”

“Six months now.”

“Well, can’t you just pick out the beef?” He was standing away from the table.

“Stoyan, the taste has spread to everything—the fat—you can’t just pick out the beef—”

“Well that’s stupid. You need meat,” he said.

“No, you don’t.” She had been eating rice and beans, like people in the Third World, and doing just fine. Her energy was up; she never felt more vital. She was discovering the joys of whole grains, too. “Dad still doesn’t sell Wonder Bread in the store because he knows that enriched stuff’s no good for you. He just never figured out the truth about meat. It’s bad for your heart.”

“Meat is protein. We’re wired to eat meat.”

“I like veggies, and I’m discovering a variety ways of cooking with tofu.”

“Toe what? Are you insane?” Jeannie’s new diet was a strange challenge of some kind that just didn’t make much sense to Stoyan. His fishing hat was clenched hard in his left hand and instead of talk-yelling, like was the Mladans’ want, he was screaming.

“I don’t think you should talk to her that way,” Johnny said. “She’s not stupid. She’s not insane. She’s—” His lower lip was quavering but he wasn’t about to back down. “She’s entitled to her opinions—”

“What are you going to do? Bomb me and my beliefs back to the stone age, General Westmoreland?”

“He’s not an American anymore,” Jeannie shouted at Stoyan. “He’s a Canadian. After he married me, he got his citizenship.”

Now Johnny too stood away from the table and looked over at Jeannie and sighed. The chair vibrated under him and a slight rattle filled the silence and twitched up his left arm before stopping at his elbow. Her response, although supportive, wasn’t quite right. Yes, he was a Canadian, but he was also an American. And he wasn’t embarrassed about being one.

“I’m sorry,” she said, realizing her mistake.

“She’s a free person.” He shrugged, removed his party hat, and sulked toward the apartment’s living room. From there he could still hear the conversation’s fallout—they were loud. He picked up a putter leaning against a radiator and tapped three or four golf balls resting against the legs of the vinyl-covered couch.

“What makes you feel so superior, huh?” Jeannie asked. Canadians were supposed to be humble—“this was such bullshit.” A Formica chair scraped against the floor. She too were about to leave. Babo said stay, it was Dedo’s birthday, but Jeannie said “I’m sorry, Ma, but Stoyan just can’t treat my husband this way.”

And then they started speaking in Macedonian, perhaps to keep Johnny out of the loop on their private conversation, but more likely to help Dedo and Babo enter into the flow of dialogue. Babo’s voice was full of tears.

Johnny couldn’t understand Dedo’s words exactly, but listening to the crunch of his gravelly voice was like witnessing Hendrix playing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” his guitar converting absent words into emotional truths. Dedo felt Stoyan was wrong and it appeared that he was defending Jeannie’s husband.

Stoyan’s words shrugged after that. They were no longer on full volume, and he apologized again to Jeannie, to his mother and father, and admitted that he’d always been jealous of Americans. He spoke now in English, as if, perhaps, he wanted Johnny to hear his explanation, to apologize indirectly instead of face to face. Americans were so confident, Stoyan said, sitting down. They always were, and yesterday he had lost out on a promotion for Chief engineer with de Havilland aircraft. He had been there for twenty years, twenty, count them twenty, doing a fine job in their designs department, but he hadn’t moved up as fast as that young thirty-something from Columbia. “So, he gets the pay raise.” He sighed. “Eat what you like. But vegetarianism? I mean honestly.” Silverware touched plates, glasses tapped Formica.

“Hey, when are we going to watch the hockey game?” Johnny shouted.

“Turn it on,” Stoyan said. “We’ll be right there.”

Before retiring to the living room to watch the game, Dedo opened his gifts: Jeannie’s orange and brown Afghan to stay warm during damp nights of TV viewing and a gold watch that glowed in the dark and “would help him find his way to the bathroom at four a.m.,” Stoyan joked.

By the time they turned on the solid-state, color television, it was already 2-1 for Buffalo, but Jacques Plante had made several key saves, keeping the Leafs in the game. Sabres goalie Roger Crozier was hot that night too, stopping the Leafs’ Davey Keon on a breakaway. During intermission, Dedo shook his head and mumbled something about why don’t they show more Black Hawk games—GM Tommy Ivan was from the old country.

“Ivan—that doesn’t sound Macedonian,” Johnny said.

“He changed his name. His parents are from like the same village as Dedo,” Jeannie said. Ivan was born in Toronto.


Dedo also liked Johnny Weissmuller, the Tarzan guy, Jeannie translated, and Boris Karloff. Weissmuller was from somewhere in Romania and Karloff was from near Zellevoh.

“Karloff’s English,” Johnny whispered to Jeannie and she squeezed his hand so he didn’t say anything too loudly.

In the second period the Leafs tied the game before Buffalo tough guy Reg Fleming fired a low slap-shot between the post and Plante’s skate to once again give Buffalo the lead. Twice during the period the lights in the apartment flickered and the TV screen turned to buzzing bees. Somewhere in the middle of the period, during a boring spell of neutral-zone hockey, Jeannie once again squeezed Johnny’s hand before getting sodas for everyone.

“I don’t think you guys should try to get home tonight,” Stoyan said from the radiator. The putter resembled a marching baton in his right hand. “The couch opens up. It’s comfortable. Hell, it’s late. And it’s raining like crazy.”

Johnny looked over at Jeannie whose face was an open expression he couldn’t read. The eyebrows were steady, still, the lips parted. It was as if he could map on her face whatever feelings, meanings he wanted to.

“We could play a round of golf in the morning—if the greens aren’t under a lake,” Stoyan said.

“I’m terrible at golf.”

“Good. I’m not. I’ll kick your ass.” And then he laughed. He often found his own jokes amusing.

“I—we—can stay.” Jeannie absently caressed the bracelet with the sleeve of her sweater. “We can stay,” she repeated.

Johnny nodded. Rain beat out a rhythm of an angry tap dancer. He wasn’t sure how this was all going to end. In a narrative poem, “Turnstiles,” yet to be written by the kind of guy who perhaps gives a coworker an expensive bracelet, the estranged couple would play at being married, pretend to be dutiful and supportive of each other, make light jokes, eat and smile and watch the game. Then afterward, commit to polite conversation on the way to the bus stop. The final stanzas would capture a mood of loss and loneliness. Once inside the tunnel, “swatches of clothes, dark hats/ her ribbon of bracelet, cars silver / little boxes heading / nowhere,” they’d get stuck in the turnstiles—and he’d enjoy the captured seconds of immobility—she, gripping her bag, tight, against her shoulder would ready to take the Yonge Southbound to King; he regrettably would be heading for the Bloor East to Page. Just before leaving on separate trains, they’d part, and in a moment of elevated language, the poet’s final stanza, the speaker would tell us that “they smiled, promising / to talk, tonight, tomorrow / but as doors hushed open / gaps, minded, they knew of / no new beginning / but the line’s end. // That wasn’t the poem that Johnny would write. He wasn’t sure what was in front of them, but it wasn’t that. He sure hoped it wasn’t. Besides, they weren’t going anywhere tonight. He still had tonight.

And just then the Leafs’ Paul Henderson flipped a backhand pass to number nine Normie Ullman, who took it on his forehand and wristed it through Crozier’s blocker side. A red light flashed, Babo and Jeannie and Johnny cheered, and as the goaltender sunk to the ice, his right catch glove caught the crossbar, holding his slinky legs up, keeping him from falling any farther.